11262 - Chemistry of Macromolecules

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end f the course the student has acquired knowledge on synthesis and characterization of macromolecular substances, as well as on the dependence of their physical properties on chemical structure. The student is able to select the appropriate polymerization mechanism for a given monomer, to describe the experimental methods for molecular weight characterization and for determination of the main thermal transitions, and to correlate thermal and mechanical properties with chemical structure.

Course contents


  • Introduction: constitution, configuration, conformation of macromolecules; linear, branched, crosslinked macromolecules; homopolymers and copolymers


  • Step-growth polymerization
  • Free radical addition polymerization
  • Ionic polymerization
  • controlled free radical addition polymerization
  • Copolymerization
  • Polymerization technques

3. Tacticity and stereoregular polymerizations (2h)

4. Average size of macromolecules in solution. Methods for molar mass characterization. (10h)

  • titration terminal groups
  • Osmotic pressure
  • method viscosimetric
  • light scattering
  • GPC: gel permeation chromatography

5. Polymers in the amorphous state. Glass/rubber, glass transition. (6h)

6. Partially crystalline polymers. Crystallization and melting. (6h)

7 Structure-property correlations in polymers (4h)


J.M.G. Covie and V. Arrighi, "Polymers: Chemistry and Physics of Modern Materials", 3rd Edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, 2008.

Other books (in Italian language): F.Ciardelli et al., "Macromolecole, scienza e tecnologia", vol. I e II, Pacini, Pisa, 1986; M. Guaita et al., "Fondamenti di scienza dei polimeri", Pacini, Pisa, 1998.

Moodle platform will  be used to deposit  power point documents and reading materials. prepared by the teacher.


Teaching methods

The course is composed of 40 hours of lectures

Attendance to course lessons is strongly recommended to understand the most fundamental aspects of the subject and the correlations among the different parts of the programme

Assessment methods

Prior to oral examination the student is requested to answer to a short written test (20 minutes) composed of 4 questions: one open question and 3 questions with multiple choice. The oral examination will be allowed only if the student gets a positive mark in such test.

Assessment by an oral examination (30-40 minutes) composed of three questions each focussing on one of the three main topics of the course: (1) polymerization processes, (2) macromolecules in solution and molar mass determination, (3) Thermal/mechanical properties and structure-property relations.

To pass the examination the student is requested to answer in a correct and complete way to the 3 questions, if one of the 3 questions is not answered the examination fails..

Good language properties and the ability to make connections among the different parts of the programme will involve a higher score.

Teaching tools

Video projector, PC, slide projector

Office hours

See the website of Maria Letizia Focarete